Community subforum URLs

Now that we’re starting to create subforums for national communities, I would like to propose that we use two-letter country codes as the short identifier of any such category.

This would follow the existing practice for mailing list names and would result in compact, predictable and less language-dependent URLs.

So for the Polish category, the name would remain “Polska (Poland)”, but the relevant part of the URL would change to /communities/pl/.

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I’ve changed the URL on the Poland one.

We’ll need to figure out how to handle regional forums, like #communities:osm-africa

Maybe just using the two letter for countries?

I agree that the two letter approach only makes sense for countries. There is not going to be any standard identifier for regions, so I would go with the name of the region.

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Using country codes instead of country names in URLs degrades SEO for that groups. They would be less visible at search engines. Please use full country names in URL-s.

In mail lists this did not matter, but on the web that is essential.

This forum should be source of information and place that would gather people together. For that purpose forums and subforums should rank high in search engines. Having country name in community groups URL is vital for this to happen. Removing it is like shooting yourself in a foot.

I consider URLs part of a site’s user interface and API rather than a place to stuff with SEO keywords. So I would advocate for choosing whatever makes for the best experience for someone using this site.

That isn’t necessarily incompatible with using country names. But it does suggest certain considerations to keep in mind (not necessarily an exhaustive list):

  • URLs should be consistent and predictable
  • The category name in the URL should ideally be identical to what is used in the email address for those using this platform through email
  • URLs should avoid characters that might cause problems in feed readers, bots, or other software accessing this site

This is fundamentally wrong approach.

This forum would be used (as old one) as verz valuable archive of inforamtion. Main requirement for the archive is that is is searchable in best possible manner, and there is no best way to expose its content than allowing search engines to understand content and proesent it to those that look for such content.

Exactly. What is more consistent and predictable than to use group name as slug in URL?

That is just technical decision that has no usability value.

This platform uses topic names to create slughs in UIRL’s. That works fine and exaclty as it should. Same should be with categories. Actually, it from SEO point of view, would be even better if post URL contains also category slug in it. That would allow search engines to understand a structure and provide better results on search queries.

That provides the best experience for users. When they are looking to solve an issue or learn something, they should be pointed to this forum by search engines, if proper answer lays here.

SEO optimization serves exactly that purpose. That is why URLs should not use cryptic and non-recognizable slugs but proper keywords that search engines can collect, understand and use to provide information behind URLs to people who search for them.

And if people got directed by search engines here they would possibly learn that this platform exists, find this platform useful, maybe decide to join, became member o community and thus make community better.

One of the odd sides of OSM is that it acts like closed community. It is hard for new people to join in as it is hard to start learning about it. Not that OSM is just complicated by definition, but finding answers is hard. We should do everything we can to make it more accessible to new people, not to hide from them.

Forum visibility is important, and thats why these forums are being linked more prominently in other OSM sites.

About the URL, without some data points it’s difficult to know what’s the best approach.

URLs should have the country name in English? In the local language? In which local language when there are multiple?

Wikipedia for example uses language codes for their URLs (as most websites) and that hasn’t been an issue for discoverability.

How are we currently ranking on search engines? What do people use to find their OSM community?

A post was merged into an existing topic: transition announcement

I am not sure really sure that I understand @Tordanik’s reasoning here. For the end user the URL is
unimportant. Virtually nobody will look at it or even enter it manually somewhere. URLs without the name slug also work (e.g., so APIs are no issue. For these reasons, I am looking at the problem (almost) exclusively from an SEO perspective.

Good question. I guess the simplest approach would be to just us all of them:

If you consider it being too long, I think the language that has the most speakers in the country should be chosen.

You are comparing apples and oranges. The Wikipedia subdomains are used for language versions, not local communities. They are unimportant as search engines don’t need the URL to tell them the language of a website, they can see it from source code or (if missing there) from the text.

Without information from Google Search Console or a similar service, it is not easy to answer the question, what search terms people use to find this forum. In general, this forum is not very discoverable yet, as can be seen with a few tests:

  1. When I search “OpenStreetMap Germany” in German Google, the old forum appears on page 2. The new forum is nowhere to be found.
  2. When I search “OpenStreetMap Deutschland”, neither of them is found in the first ten pages.
  3. “OpenStreetMap forum” has old forum in position 1, new forum nowhere
  4. “OpenStreetMap community” has new forum in position 2

Thoughts about that (and some statistics):

  1. As the new forum is using a new subdomain, it has not generated much reputation yet and not many backlinks. This can be one reason for bad ranking that will improve over time.
  2. In Germany, more people search for “OpenStreetMap Deutschland” than “OpenStreetMap Germany” (source). For that reason, the old forum was not very discoverable, this should be done better here.
  3. Worldwide, more people search for “OpenStreetMap Forum” than “OpenStreetMap Community” (source). The name and subdomain of the new forum are therefore badly chosen from an SEO perspective.